The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Yogurt has always had a reputation as a dietary superstar. It's been widely accepted as a healthy choice for breakfast or a snack. The fact that it's a grab-and-go food that needs no preparation has undoubtedly boosted its popularity at a time when many people are too busy or time-challenged to fix a morning meal. We've all seen the images of the svelte young woman in workout clothes, spooning up her yogurt as she dashes from the gym to the office.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Much of the hype is true. Yogurt is a probiotic, another of those trendy words in today's food conversations. Probiotics are live bacteria cultures, so-called "good bacteria." They're typically found in many dairy products, including aged cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar, fermented products like sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kombucha tea, Japanese miso and Korean kimchi.
The main benefit claimed for probiotics is that they help regulate the digestive system, calm a queasy stomach, reduce bloating and regularize bowel function. They may be useful in treating some forms of diarrhea. Most of the other claims for their disease-treating value are a little shakier. Probiotics have been credited with reducing cholesterol and inflammation, lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system and fighting infection, staving off vaginal infections, preventing osteoporosis and even addressing some skin conditions. But much research remains to be done in those areas and it's unlikely that a probiotic supplement will be of much benefit.
Eating yogurt itself is a different matter. It's undeniably high in calcium, which is essential for strong bones, and it contains a host of other nutrients and minerals, including B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, iodine and zinc. Many brands add vitamin D to help absorb the calcium, a good thing. Yogurt can also be high in protein, depending on the type you buy. Greek yogurt is particularly protein-rich.
With all the touted benefits, the number of yogurts in the dairy case has proliferated, leading to a confusing array of choices—sometimes hundreds of them. Like milk, it comes in whole-milk, low-fat and non-fat versions, since yogurt is nothing more than milk with bacterial cultures introduced to ferment it. Each can have its benefits depending on what your requirements are. But some of the choices can quickly turn a healthy food into something not much better than a junk food.
Plain yogurt is pretty, well, plain, and some may not like its sour taste. In an effort to broaden its appeal, many companies have taken to supplementing it with added ingredients, mixing it with various fruits and other flavors such as vanilla and maple. That's not necessarily bad in itself. But many yogurts also contain loads of added sweeteners, including that big food no-no, high-fructose corn syrup. Read the label and make sure yours doesn't. If sugar is the first ingredient listed, put it back. And while that yogurt with chocolate chip cookie pieces might induce your child to try some, it's probably not the best choice for an after-school snack.
A good way to avoid added ingredients that dilute yogurt's benefits is to make your own flavored yogurt. That's really not that much more complicated than popping the top off the cup. Start with the safest choice, plain organic yogurt, and toss in a handful of berries, orange sections, banana slices or nuts, spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, or seeds like chia, hemp and flax that add texture and fiber, or granola. All of those bring their own healthy compounds, adding more nutritional punch to that quick-and-easy yogurt meal.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
- New Evidence Suggests Ancient Egypt Was Brought Down by ... ›
- Climate Change Could Set Off Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Has 18 'Very High Threat' Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Discover 91 Volcanoes Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Sheet ... ›